NORTHBOROUGH, Mass. — After 53 years in business, Brown’s TV & Appliance will close its doors at 243 West Main St. at the end of this month.
Co-owner Frank Brown attributed the closure to several factors, but mostly to a rapidly changing electronics business that has made it difficult for small, independent retailers to stay afloat.
“You don’t have the profit margins anymore,” said Brown, who runs the business with his brother, Dave. Though he said the store was able to compete with chain retailers for many years, the rise of online shopping has added an entire new layer of competition. “The business has just completely changed,” he said.
Changes in technology have had an impact as well. Though their repair business once brought in significant revenue, Brown said that falling electronics prices have led more people to replace broken televisions rather than have them fixed. “Your set breaks, you just throw it out,” he said.
It doesn’t help that the store carries debt from a fire set by two Shrewsbury teenagers in 2008. Matthew Cramer and Nicholas Couture were sentenced to prison in 2009 after admitting to burning down numerous businesses in the Northborough Shopping Center. Though the judge ordered them to pay more than $800,000 in restitution, Brown said the monthly payments are so small that they barely make a difference.
“We’ll never see a dime of that,” he added.
The store had fire insurance, but that didn’t cover all the losses. The family had no choice but to try and recoup their losses in the midst of one of the worst economic recessions in decades.
Even then, the decision to close for good took some time.
“You’d have one good month and think, ‘Well, things are turning around,’ Brown said. “And the next month you’d be back in the hole again.”
Regular customers, who had become accustomed to the store that first opened in 1960, were stunned by the news.
“People just can’t believe it,” Brown said. “We’ve been here so long that they thought we’d never leave.”
Well aware that the economy is still in a fragile state, Brown said that he wasn’t sure what he would do next.
“At this point, I’m just going to take my time and see what my options are,” he said.